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Hormel, the pork giant behind spam and several other meat products, keeps their pigs in gestation crates; cages barely bigger than the sows, without enough room for the animals to walk or turn around. Pigs are social, intelligent animals, and gestation crates deny them social interactions and stimulation, literally causing them to go insane.

The Humane Society of the United States explains the suffering behind spam: "Breeding pigs used by Hormel are confined in these crates for their entire four-month pregnancy, placed into another crate to give birth, then put back into a gestation crate — pregnancy after pregnancy — until they are slaughtered."

Animal scientist Temple Grandin, who is Hormel's own "animal welfare" advisor, described the extreme confinement of gestation crates as the equivalent of a person living her life in an airline seat. Grandin believes this cruel confinement needs to be phased out of the industry.

That's the trend: seven U.S. states and the European Union have passed laws to ban gestation crates. Several companies are phasing out purchases from suppliers who use gestation crates, including Burger King, Wendy's, Sonic, Quiznos, and Safeway.

Tell Hormel to end the use of gestation crates.

Photo credit: Farm Sanctuary

Letter to
President and CEO, Hormel Foods Jeffrey M. Ettinger
Consumer Response
I recently learned that Hormel uses gestation crates for their pigs. Gestation crates keep pigs so extremely confined that they cannot walk or turn around. Research has shown that gestation crates cause immense suffering and your own animal welfare advisor, Dr. Temple Grandin, has said that gestation crates are "a real problem" and need to be phased out of the industry.

Seven U.S. states and the European Union have passed laws to outlaw gestation crates. Maxwell Foods does not use gestation crates and Cargill is 50 percent gestation crate-free. Several major companies have been phasing out purchases from suppliers who use this cruel confinement, including Safeway, Whole Foods, Burger King, Wendy's, Sonic, Carl's Jr. and Hardee's, Quiznos, and Chipotle.

I understand that you have plans to test out group housing in your Arizona facilities so you can see for yourselves whether there is a difference. While this is a step in the right direction, there is no question that gestation crates are cruel. Here are statements by several scientists and experts on gestation crates and sow welfare:

Further, Hormel will be legally required to switch to group housing in Arizona by the end of 2012, so it is not a voluntary transition that shows Hormel's dedication to animal welfare.

I urge you to commit to phasing out all use of gestation crates in your company-owned operations. Polls have shown that the vast majority of consumers find these crates inhumane. Please reduce the suffering in your supply chain and take immediate steps to end this cruel confinement throughout your company.

Thank you.